January 23, 2002
MOBILE, Ala. -- Indiana's multi-talented first-team All-American Antwaan Randle El, who finished his career as the most productive all-purpose quarterback in NCAA Division I history, heads a group of eight players from Big Ten schools named to the 2002 Senior Bowl roster on Sunday.
In addition to Randle El, other top Big Ten players named on Sunday include tight end Chris Baker and linebacker Josh Thornhill of Michigan State, Minnesota's all-time receiving leader Ron Johnson, Iowa running back Ladell Betts, Northwestern linebacker Napoleon Harris, Purdue defensive lineman Akin Ayodele and Wisconsin defensive back Mike Echols.
The additions bring to 14 the number of players from the Big Ten who will play in the January 26 game, as other league stars such as quarterback Kurt Kittner of Illinois, Michigan's Larry Foote, the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, and consensus All-American center LeCharles Bentley of Ohio State have previously been announced as Senior Bowl participants.
"Antwaan has been one of the most exciting players in college football throughout his Indiana career, and it should be very interesting to see how his many talents will be used by the Seattle Seahawks coaching staff who will be coaching his North team in this year's game," said Senior Bowl President Steve Hale. "We're also very excited to once again have such excellent representation from Big Ten schools, as this group includes league's offensive and defensive players of the year in 2001."
The most statistically productive dual-threat quarterback to ever play college football, Randle El became the first player in major college history to record 7,000 career passing yards and 3,500 career yards rushing.
Named the first-team All-American quarterback by the Football Writers Association in 2001, Randle El also holds the distinction of being the first player in NCAA Division I history to pass for 40 career touchdowns and score 40 career touchdowns.
The Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, he also finished sixth in the balloting for the 2001 Heisman Trophy.
A consensus first-team All-Big Ten selection, he finished his career fifth on the all-time NCAA total yardage list and also became the first player in college football history to record 2,500 total yards for four consecutive years.
The 5-10, 194-pounder's multi-purpose talents were on display throughout the year as he threw for over 150 yards and rushed for over 100 yards in the same game three times and finished the year with 1,664 passing yards, 964 rushing and accounted for 17 touchdowns.
Against Michigan State, he moved into first place on the NCAA Division I rushing list for quarterbacks as he carried 21 times for 149 yards.
He finished his career with 7,469 passing yards and rushed for 3,895 more, and accounted for 86 touchdowns running and passing during his record-setting collegiate career.
A first-team All-Big Ten selection in 2001, Thornhill led Michigan State with 124 tackles and also earned third-team All-American honors by The Sporting News and Football News.
Baker finished his career as the schools' all-time leader in receptions by a tight end with 129, and added 1,685 yards and 13 touchdowns.
A Football News second-team All-American, he caught 36 passes for 528 yards in 2001 and is considered one of the top tight ends in this year's draft.
A dominating pass rusher, Ayodele was a consensus first-team All-Big Ten selection in 2001 who led the Boilermakers and ranked second in the league with 19 tackles for loss and eight sacks.
The 6-3, 261-pounder also led Purdue in sacks three straight years and finished third on the all-time school list with 28 career sacks.
One of the top running back prospects in this year's draft, Betts rushed for 1,056 yards and ten scores in 2001 to become the first player in school history to lead the Hawkeyes in rushing four straight years.
The 5-11, 215-pounder finished second on the all-time school rushing list with 3,682 yards and third in rushing touchdowns with 25.
Considered by many to be the top senior outside linebacker in the draft, Harris was a two-time All-Big Ten selection who recorded 334 tackles during his career. He also made 78 tackles in 2001, led the team in quarterback hurries with 19, added nine tackles for loss and had three sacks.
Johnson finished his career as the most prolific pass catcher in school history, as his career totals of 198 receptions, 2,989 receiving yards and 31 touchdowns are all-time Gopher records.
He also established a single season school mark with 1,125 receiving yards in 2000 to earn first-team All-Big Ten honors, and caught 56 passes for 895 yards and nine scores in 2001.
Echols was a first-team All-Big Ten selection by the coaches and second-team all-league pick by the media who recorded 67 tackles, tied for the team lead in interceptions with three and led the Badgers in pass break-ups with 12 during a stellar senior season.
Less than 2,400 tickets remain for sale to this year's Senior Bowl. They can be purchased at Colonial Mall Bel Air, selected AmSouth Bank branches, and the Senior Bowl ticket office in the Adam's Mark Hotel in downtown Mobile. Remaining tickets sell for $18 and $12 each and can also be purchased by calling 251-432-4109 or ordered through the bowl's website at www.seniorbowl.com.